Ashford’s visitor economy continues to thrive, with research commissioned by Visit Kent showing that Ashford saw a 6% increase in attraction spend in 2015.  Visits to the district rose to 4.3 million trips, with 3.9 million day trips and nearly half a million overnight trips. The total number of jobs supported by tourism rose by 3.54% to 5,482. This equates to one in 10 of all jobs in Ashford. The total value of tourism across the borough, including all visitor spend, as well as associated and indirect spending was £278 million.
The tourism picture was also rosy across the county in 2015, despite the challenges presented by Operation Stack and poor weather during the summer. Kent welcomed more than 60 million visitors in 2015, and the visitor economy’s value rose to £3.6 billion. Cllr Clair Bell, portfolio holder for borough presentation, said: “Ashford’s thriving visitor economy and the value of tourism in the borough cannot be underestimated. Ashford accounts for thousands of jobs and contributes significantly to Kent’s economy. The tourism action plan that was implemented following the tourism review, along with the prestigious National Tourism Symposium, hosted by Ashford and held at Eastwell Manor last year together with the launch of the wine trail in Tenterden, have all helped to raise the borough’s profile as a tourist destination.
“We have achieved a great deal and these latest figures show we are moving in the right direction.”
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “In the coming years the town will have a new Chapel Down brewery, an expanded Designer Outlet Centre as well as boutique cinema and hopefully the Model Railway Education Centre, which will all help to put Ashford on the map as an exciting and vibrant place to experience.”